Hillary Clinton: Captured Benghazi figure may help with ‘unanswered questions’

Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
Yahoo News
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FILE - This Jan. 23, 2013 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. To congressional Republicans, "Benghazi" is shorthand for incompetence and cover-up. Democrats hear it as the hollow sound of pointless investigations. It is, in fact, a Mediterranean port city in Libya that was the site of an attack on an American diplomatic compound on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. That's nearly all that U.S. politicians can agree on about Benghazi. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday warmly welcomed the capture of a suspected ringleader of the deadly Benghazi terrorist attacks, and predicted that he could help shed light on “unanswered questions” from the bloody September 11, 2012, assault.

“We want to know who was behind it, what the motivation of the leaders and the attackers happened to be. There are still some unanswered questions. It was, after all, the fog of war,” she said in a CNN-hosted, town hall-style meeting.

Clinton also indirectly addressed Republican criticisms about the year-and-a-half gap between the terrorist strike on the U.S. facilities in the eastern Libyan city and the weekend U.S. Special Operations raid that netted the suspected ringleader, Ahmed Abu Khatalla.

“It took, as you know, 10 years to bring Osama bin Laden to justice,” said Clinton, who was secretary of state when terrorists blitzed the American compound in Benghazi and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Clinton noted that the State Department had commissioned an independent inquiry into the attack and that several committees in Congress had followed suit but suggested that they had fallen short of getting the full picture.

“There are answers not all of them, not enough, frankly. I'm still looking for answers because it was a confusing and difficult time,” she said.

“There's a lot we don't know,” she said. “Now that we have Khattala in custody, hopefully we will learn more, at least from his perspective.”

Republicans have harnessed the 2012 attack — and the Obama administration’s initially shifting explanation for what motivated it — to besiege Clinton, who now appears poised to run for president in 2016.

Asked whether, in retrospect, she wished she had not allowed Stevens to go to Benghazi, Clinton defended the diplomat’s decision to go.

“America needs to be present. Chris Stevens probably knew Libya as well as anyone else currently serving in our diplomatic corps. He spoke the language. And he made decisions that I believe had to be respected. And therefore, he was in Benghazi on that fateful night,” she said.

Still, she admitted, “if any of us had known that there was going to be a wave of attacks” across the region, “I think we would have certainly cautioned and maybe even directed people to, you know, just shelter in place, so to speak, and wait to see what was going to happen.”

Some of the questions CNN asked of Hillary came via Tumblr. Yahoo bought Tumblr in May 2013.